The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Book Second.

Part I. — The Kaan, His Court and Capital.

II., p. 334.


It is worthy of note that Nayan had given up Buddhism and become a Christian as well as many of his subjects. Cf. PELLIOT 1914, pp. 635–6.

VII., pp. 352, 353.

Instead of Sir-i-Sher, read Sar-i-Sher. (PELLIOT.)

P’ai Tzu.

“Dr. Bushell’s note describes the silver p’ai, or tablets (not then called p’ai tsz) of the Cathayans, which were 200 (not 600) in number. But long before the Cathayans used them, the T’ang Dynasty had done so for exactly the same purpose. They were 5 inches by 1–1/2 inches, and marked with the five words, ‘order, running horses, silver p’ai,’ and were issued by the department known as the mên-hia-shêng. Thus, they were not a Tartar, but a Chinese, invention. Of course, it is possible that the Chinese must have had the idea suggested to them by the ancient wooden orders or tallies of the Tartars.” (E.H. PARKER, As. Quart. Review, Jan., 1904, p. 146.)

Instead of “Publication No. 42” read only No. 42, which is the number of the pai tzu. (PELLIOT.)

VIII., p. 358, n. 2.

Kún kú = hon hu may be a transcription of hwang heu during the Mongol Period, according to Pelliot.

IX. p. 360.

Mongol Imperial Family.

“Marco Polo is correct in a way when he says Kúblái was the sixth Emperor, for his father Tu li is counted as a Divus (Jwei Tsung), though he never reigned; just as his son Chin kin (Yü Tsung) is also so counted, and under similar conditions. Chin kin was appointed to the chung shu and shu-mih departments in 1263. He was entrusted with extensive powers in 1279, when he is described as ‘heir apparent.’ In 1284 Yün Nan, Chagan-jang, etc., were placed under his direction. His death is recorded in 1285. Another son, Numugan, was made Prince of the Peking region (Pêh-p’ing) in 1266, and the next year a third son, Hukaji, was sent to take charge of Ta-li, Chagan-jang, Zardandan, etc. In 1272 Kúblái’s son, Mangalai, was made Prince of An-si, with part of Shen Si as his appanage. One more son, named Ai-ya-ch’ih, is mentioned in 1284, and in that year yet another, Tu kan, was made Prince of Chên-nan, and sent on an expedition against Ciampa. In 1285 Essen Temur, who had received a chung-shu post in 1283, is spoken of as Prince of Yün Nan, and is stated to be engaged in Kara-jang; in 1286 he is still there, and is styled ‘son of the Emperor.’ I do not observe in the Annals that Hukaji ever bore the title of Prince of Yün Nan, or, indeed, any princely title. In 1287 Ai-ya-ch’ih is mentioned as being at Shên Chou (Mukden) in connection with Kúblái’s ‘personally conducted’ expedition against Nayen. In 1289 one more son, Géukju, was patented Prince of Ning Yüan. In 1293 Kúblái’s third son Chinkin, received a posthumous title, and Chinkin’s son Temur was declared heir-apparent to Kúblái.

“The above are the only sons of Kúblái whose names I have noticed in the Annals. In the special table of Princes Numugan is styled Pêh-an (instead of Pêh-p’ing) Prince. Aghrukji’s name appears in the table (chap. 108, p. 107), but though he is styled Prince of Si-p’ing, he is not there stated to be a son of Kúblái; nor in the note I have supplied touching Tibet is he styled a hwang-tsz or ‘imperial son.’ In the table Hukaji is described as being in 1268 Prince of Yün Nan, a title ‘inherited in 1280 by Essen Temur.’ I cannot discover anything about the other alleged sons in Yule’s note (Vol. I., p. 361). The Chinese count Kúblái’s years as eighty, he having died just at the beginning of 1294 (our February); this would make him seventy-nine at the very outside, according to our mode of reckoning, or even seventy-eight if he was born towards the end of a year, which indeed he was (eighth moon). If a man is born on the last day of the year he is two years old the very next day according to Chinese methods of counting, which, I suppose, include the ten months which they consider are spent in the womb.” (E.H. PARKER, As. Quart. Rev., Jan., 1904, pp. 137–139.)

XI., p. 370, n. 13.

The character King in King-shan is not the one representing Court [Chinese] but [Chinese]. — Read “Wan-sui-Shan” instead of Wan-su-Shan.

XII., p. 380.

Keshikten has nothing to do with Kalchi. (PELLIOT.)

XVIII., p. 398.

The Cheeta, or Hunting Leopard.

Cf. Chapters on Hunting Dogs and Cheetas, being an extract from the “Kitab’u’ l-Bazyarah,” a treatise on Falconry, by Ibn Kustrajim, an Arab writer of the Tenth Century. By Lieut.-Colonel D.C. Phillott and Mr. R.F. Azoo (Journ. and Proc. Asiatic Soc. Bengal, Jan., 1907, pp. 47–50):

“The cheeta is the offspring of a lioness, by a leopard that coerces her, and, for this reason, cheetas are sterile like mules and all other hybrids. No animal of the same size is as weighty as the cheeta. It is the most somnolent animal on earth. The best are those that are ‘hollow-bellied,’ roach backed, and have deep black spots on a dark tawny ground, the spots on the back being close to each other; that have the eyes bloodshot, small and narrow; the mouth ‘deep and laughing’; broad foreheads; thick necks; the black line from the eyes long; and the fangs far apart from each other. The fully mature animal is more useful for sporting purposes than the cub; and the females are better at hunting than are the males, and such is the case with all beasts and birds of prey.”

See Hippolyte Boussac, Le Guépard dans l’Egypte ancienne (La Nature, 21st March, 1908, pp. 248–250).

XIX., p. 400 n. Instead of Hoy tiao, read Hey tiao (Hei tiao).

XIX., p. 400. “These two are styled Chinuchi (or Cunichi), which is as much as to say, ‘The Keepers of the Mastiff Dogs.’”

Dr. Laufer writes to me: “The word chinuchi is a Mongol term derived from Mongol cinoa (pronounced cino or cono which means ‘wolf,’ with the possessive suffix -ci, meaning accordingly a ‘wolf-owner’ or ‘wolf-keeper).’ One of the Tibetan designations for the mastiff is cang-k’i (written spyang-k’yi), which signifies literally ‘wolf-dog.’ The Mongol term is probably framed on this Tibetan word. The other explanations given by Yule (401–402) should be discarded.”

Prof. Pelliot writes to me: “J’incline à croire que les Cunichi sont à lire Cuiuci et répondent au kouei-tch’e ou kouei-yeou-tch’e, ‘censeurs,’ des textes chinois; les formes chinoises sont transcrites du mongol et se rattachent au verbe güyü, ou güyi, ‘courir’; on peut songer à restituer güyükci. Un Ming-ngan (= Minghan), chef des kouei-tch’e, vivait sous Kúblái et a sa biographie au ch. 135 du Yuan Che; d’autre part, peut-être faut-il lire, par déplacement de deux points diacritiques, Bayan güyükci dans Rashid ed-Din, ed. BLOCHET, II., 501.”

XX., p. 408, n. 6. Cachar Modun must be the place called Ha-ch’a-mu-touen in the Yuan Shi, ch. 100, f°. 2 r. (PELLIOT.)

XXIV., pp. 423, 430. “Bark of Trees, made into something like Paper, to pass for Money over all his Country.”

Regarding Bretschneider’s statement, p. 430, Dr. B. Laufer writes to me: “This is a singular error of Bretschneider. Marco Polo is perfectly correct: not only did the Chinese actually manufacture paper from the bark of the mulberry tree (Morus alba), but also it was this paper which was preferred for the making of paper-money. Bretschneider is certainly right in saying that paper is made from the Broussonetia, but he is assuredly wrong in the assertion that paper is not made in China from mulberry trees. This fact he could have easily ascertained from S. Julien,3 who alludes to mulberry tree paper twice, first, as ‘papier de racines et d’écorce de mûrier,’ and, second, in speaking of the bark paper from Broussonetia: ‘On emploie aussi pour le même usage l’écorce d’Hibiscus Rosa sinensis et de mûrier; ce dernier papier sert encore à recueillir les graines de vers à soie,’ What is understood by the latter process may be seen from Plate I. in Julien’s earlier work on sericulture,4 where the paper from the bark of the mulberry tree is likewise mentioned.

“The Chi p’u, a treatise on paper, written by Su I-kien toward the close of the tenth century, enumerates among the various sorts of paper manufactured during his lifetime paper from the bark of the mulberry tree (sang p’i) made by the people of the north.5

“Chinese paper-money of mulberry bark was known in the Islamic World in the beginning of the fourteenth century; that is, during the Mongol period. Accordingly it must have been manufactured in China during the Yuan Dynasty. Ahmed Shibab Eddin, who died in Cairo in 1338 at the age of 93, and left an important geographical work in thirty volumes, containing interesting information on China gathered from the lips of eye-witnesses, makes the following comment on paper-money, in the translation of Ch. Schefer:6

“‘On emploie dans le Khita, en guise de monnaie, des morceaux d’un papier de forme allongée fabriqué avec des filaments de mûriers sur lesquels est imprimé le nom de l’empereur. Lorsqu’un de ces papiers est usé, on le porte aux officiers du prince et, moyennant une perte minime, on reçoit un autre billet en échange, ainsi que cela a lieu dans nos hotels des monnaies, pour les matières d’or et d’argent que l’on y porte pour être converties en pièces monnayées.’

“And in another passage: ‘La monnaie des Chinois est faite de billets fabriqués avec l’écorce du mûrier. Il y en a de grands et de petits. . . . Ou les fabrique avec des filaments tendres du mûrier et, après y avoir opposé un sceau au nom de l’empereur, on les met en circulation.’7

“The banknotes of the Ming Dynasty were likewise made of mulberry pulp, in rectangular sheets one foot long and six inches wide, the material being of a greenish colour, as stated in the Annals of the Dynasty.8 It is clear that the Ming Emperors, like many other institutions, adopted this practice from their predecessors, the Mongols. Klaproth9 is wrong in saying that the assignats of the Sung, Kin, and Mongols were all made from the bark of the tree cu (Broussonetia), and those of the Ming from all sorts of plants.

“In the Hui kiang chi, an interesting description of Turkistan by two Manchu officials, Surde and Fusambô, published in 1772,10 the following note headed ‘Mohamedan Paper’ occurs:

“‘There are two sorts of Turkistan paper, black and white, made from mulberry bark, cotton and silk refuse equally mixed, resulting in a coarse, thick, strong, and tough material. It is cut into small rolls fully a foot long, which are burnished by means of stones, and then are fit for writing.’

“Sir Aurel Stein11 reports that paper is still manufactured from mulberry trees in Khotan. Also J. Wiesner,12 the meritorious investigator of ancient papers, has included the fibres of Morus alba and M. nigra among the material to which his researches extended.

“Mulberry-bark paper is ascribed to Bengal in the Si yang ch’ao kung tien lu by Wu Kiën-hwang, published in 1520.13

“As the mulberry tree is eagerly cultivated in Persia in connection with the silk industry, it is possible also that the Persian paper in the banknotes of the Mongols was a product of the mulberry.14 At any rate, good Marco Polo is cleared, and his veracity and exactness have been established again.”

3 Industries anciennes et modernes de l’Empire chinois. Paris, 1869, pp. 145, 149.

4 Résumé des principaux Traités chinois sur la culture des mûriers et l’éducation des vers à soie, Paris, 1837, p. 98. According to the notions of the Chinese, Julien remarks, everything made from hemp like cord and weavings is banished from the establishments where silkworms are reared, and our European paper would be very harmful to the latter. There seems to be a sympathetic relation between the silkworm feeding on the leaves of the mulberry and the mulberry paper on which the cocoons of the females are placed.

5 Ko chi king yuan, Ch. 37, p. 6.

6 Relations des Musulmans avec les Chinois (Centenaire de l’Ecole des Langues Orientales vivante, Paris, 1895, p. 17).

7 Ibid., p. 20.

8 Ming Shi, Ch. 81, p. 1. — The same text is found on a bill issued in 1375 reproduced and translated by W. Vissering (On Chinese Currency, see plate at end of volume), the minister of finance being expressly ordered to use the fibres of the mulberry tree in the composition of these bills.

9 Mémoires relatifs à l’Asie, Vol. I., p. 387.

10 A. WYLIE, Notes on Chinese Literature, p. 64. The copy used by me (in the John Crerar Library of Chicago) is an old manuscript clearly written in 4 vols. and chapters, illustrated by nine ink-sketches of types of Mohammedans and a map. The volumes are not paged.

11 Ancient Khotan, Vol. I., p. 134.

12 Mikroskopische Untersuchung alter ostturkestanischer Papiere, p. 9 Vienna, 1902). I cannot pass over in silence a curious error of this scholar when he says (p. 8) that it is not proved that Cannabis sativa (called by him “genuine hemp”) is cultivated in China, and that the so-called Chinese hemp-paper should be intended for China grass. Every tyro in things Chinese knows that hemp (Cannabis sativa) belongs to the oldest cultivated plants of the Chinese, and that hemp-paper is already listed among the papers invented by Ts’ai Lun in A.D. 105 (cf. CHAVANNES, Les livres chinois avant l’invention du papier, Journal Asiatique, 1905, p. 6 of the reprint).

13 Ch. B., p. 10b (ed. of Pie hia chai ts’ung shu).

14 The Persian word for the mulberry, tud, is supposed to be a loan-word from Aramaic. (HORN, Grundriss iran. Phil., Vol. I., pt. 2, p. 6.)

XXIV., p. 427.

Value of Gold.

“L’or valait quatre fois son poids d’argent au commencement de la dynastie Ming (1375), sept ou huit fois sous l’empereur Wan-li de la même dynastie (1574), et dix fois à la fin de la dynastie (1635); plus de dix fois sous K’ang hi (1662); plus de vingt fois sous le règne de K’ien long; dix-huit fois au milieu du règne de Tao-koang (1840), quatorze fois au commencement du règne de Hien-fong (1850); dix-huit fois en moyenne dans les années 1882–1883. En 1893, la valeur de l’or augmenta considérablement et égala 28 fois celle de l’argent; en 1894, 32 fois; au commencement de 1895, 33 fois; mais il baissa un peu et à la fin de l’année il valait seulement 30 fois plus.” (Pierre HOANG, La Propriété en Chine, 1897, p. 43.)

XXVI., p. 432.


Morrison, Dict., Pt. II, Vol. I., p. 70, says: “Chin-seang, a Minister of State, was so called under the Ming Dynasty.” According to Mr. E.H. Parker (China Review, XXIV., p. 101), Ching Siang were abolished in 1395.

In the quotation from the Masálak al Absár instead of Landjun (Lang Chang), read Landjun (Lang Chung).

XXXIII., pp. 447–8. “You must know, too, that the Tartars reckon their years by twelves; the sign of the first year being the Lion, of the second the Ox, of the third the Dragon, of the fourth the Dog, and so forth up to the twelfth; so that when one is asked the year of his birth he answers that it was in the year of the Lion (let us say), on such a day or night, at such an hour, and such a moment. And the father of a child always takes care to write these particulars down in a book. When the twelve yearly symbols have been gone through, then they come back to the first, and go through with them again in the same succession.”

“Ce témoignage, writes Chavannes (T’oung Pao, 1906, p. 59), n’est pas d’une exactitude rigoureuse, puisque les animaux n’y sont pas nommés à leur rang; en outre, le lion y est substitué au tigre de l’énumération chinoise; mais cette dernière difference provient sans doute de ce que Marco Polo connaissait le cycle avec les noms mongols des animaux; c’est le léopard dout il a fait le lion. Quoiqu’il en soit, l’observation de Marco Polo est juste dans son ensemble et d’innombrables exemples prouvent que le cycle des douze animaux était habituel dans les pièces officielles émanant des chancelleries impériales à l’époque mongole.”

XXXIII., p. 448.


With regard to the knowledge of Persian, the only oriental language probably known by Marco Polo, Pelliot remarks (Journ. Asiat., Mai–Juin, 1912, p. 592 n.): “C’est l’idée de Yule (cf. exemple I., 448), et je la crois tout à fait juste. On peut la fortifier d’autres indices. On sait par exemple que Marco Polo substitue le lion au tigre dans le cycle des douze animaux. M. Chavannes (T’oung pao, II., VII., 59) suppose que ‘cette dernière différence provient sans doute de ce que Marco Polo connaissait le cycle avec les noms mongols des animaux: c’est le léopard dont il a fait le lion.’ Mais on ne voit pas pourquoi il aurait rendu par ‘lion’ le turco-mongol bars, qui signifie seulement ‘tigre.’ Admettons au contraire qu’il pense en persan: dans toute l’Asie centrale, le persan [Arabic] sir a les deux sens de lion et de tigre. De même, quand Marco Polo appelle la Chine du sud Manzi, il est d’accord avec les Persans, par exemple avec Rachid ed-din, pour employer l’expression usuelle dans la langue chinoise de l’époque, c’est-à-dire Man-tseu; mais, au lieu de Manzi, les Mongols avaient adopté un autres nom, Nangias, dont il n’y a pas trace dans Marco Polo. On pourrait multiplier ces exemples.”

XXXIII., p. 456, n. Instead of Hui Heng, read Hiu Heng.

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